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Channel Surfing: Kate Winslet is HBO's "Mildred Pierce," Series on the Bubble, Marsha Thomason Returns to "White Collar," and More

Welcome to your Friday morning television briefing.

HBO has officially announced that Academy Award winner Kate Winslet (The Reader) has come aboard the pay cabler's five-hour miniseries Mildred Pierce. Based on the novel by James M. Cain (which was the basis for the 1945 melodrama starring Joan Crawford and Eve Arden), Mildred Pierce will star Winslet as the titular character, a self-made millionaire who struggles to earn her daughter's love. Project will be directed by Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven), who will write the script with Jon Raymond. Production on the five-hour miniseries, to be executive produced by Haynes, Christine Vachon, and John Wells, is set to being in New York in April. (Variety)

The Wrap's Josef Adalian breaks down the current crop of series that are said to be on the bubble for renewal next season, including Chuck, Fringe, V, FlashForward, and Community and names the five series he feels are worth saving. "Being on the bubble is incredibly stressful," Chuck co-creator Josh Schwartz told Adalian. "You are living and dying every week. Those moments before the ratings load onto your iPhone your hands are clammy, your vision blurry, your stomach doing flips. And then, since you're on the bubble, inevitably the rating is exactly low enough to guarantee you remain on the bubble, yet not so low as to ensure you are canceled. So that feeling persists for the entire week until the next ratings come in. Rinse and repeat." (The Wrap's TVMoJoe)

Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter's James Hibberd also offers a look at this season's endangered series and ranks their shots at coming back in the fall. For example: V has a 60 percent shot at returning, while FlashForward gets a 40 percent chance... and Melrose Place gets a five percent chance of another go-around. Ouch. (Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed)

Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Marsha Thomason (Lost) will be returning for Season Two of USA's White Collar as a series regular. Thomason had appeared in the pilot episode as junior FBI Agent Diana Lancing. She's set to turn up first in the season finale on March 9th and then will return as a full-fledged cast regular for Season Two. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

CBS has ordered a pilot presentation for an untitled comedy from executive producers Larry Charles and Ant Hines (Borat). Project, from Sony Pictures Television and Tantamount, will star Paul Kaye as a father who reenters the life of his estranged daughter, who is now famous. Hines, who wrote the pilot script, will executive produce with Charles, Eric Tannenbaum, Kim Tannenbaum, and Mitch Hurwitz. (Variety)

Pilot casting update: Jimmy Wolk (Solving Charlie) has been cast as the lead in FOX drama pilot Midland, where he will play a polygamist living a double life in the oil industry; Laz Alonso (Avatar) will star FOX drama pilot Breakout Kings, about a team of ex-cons and federal agents who track down escaped felons; Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break) has joined the cast of NBC's drama pilot Chase, Kathryn Hahn (Crossing Jordan) has been added to FOX comedy pilot Most Likely to Succeed, Erinn Hayes (Worst Week) will star in NBC comedy pilot This Little Piggy, Utkarsh Ambudkar has joined the cast of FOX comedy pilot Nevermind Nirvana; and Damon Wayans Jr. boarded ABC comedy pilot Happy Endings. (Hollywood Reporter)

E! Online's Kristin Dos Santos is reporting that Heidi Klum and Paulina Porizvoka will guest star on ABC's Desperate Housewives this season and will be playing themselves in an episode slated to air in May. "In the episode Gaby (Eva Longoria Parker), who is a former model, and Angie (Drea de Matteo) run into the Project Runway host and former America's Next Top Model judge in New York City," writes Dos Santos. "The storyline will take place in NYC, but the episode will be shot here in Los Angeles." (E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Fringe) are said to be developing a new animated Transformers series for The Hub, the new joint venture channel owned by Hasbro and Discovery Communications. (Hollywood Reporter)

Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Kathy Najimy has been cast to guest star on ABC's Ugly Betty, where she will play the orthodontist removing Betty's braces. "Najimy will also play a pivotal role in the episode’s It’s a Wonderful Life-esque fantasy subplot," writes Ausiello. "Per an Ugly insider, her character will serve as the guardian angel who shows Betty what life would have been like had she been blessed with perfect choppers." (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

TLC has ordered six episodes of reality series Cupcake Sisters, which will follow two sisters and business partners who run a cupcake shop in Georgetown. Project, from Big Fish Entertainment, will launch in July. (Variety)

Former MTV executive Maira Suro has been hired by Universal Cable Prods. as SVP, development and current programming. The division has also promoted Christina Sanagustin to SVP, development and current programming, Tom Lieber to director of current and development, and Korin Huggins to current and development manager. (Hollywood Reporter)

Stay tuned.


Bella Spruce said…
I was very excited to hear that HBO was doing a Mildred Pierce miniseries. I was even more excited when I heard that Todd Haynes would be at the helm. And now you say that Kate Winslet has been cast as the lead? I think I actually just squealed with joy!
Calvin B. said…
Chuck, Fringe, and Community all deserve to be saved. Still not sure about V but I would like to see more. As for FlashForward, I couldn't care less if it came back! Definitely the most disappointing new show of the season.

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